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How Professional Support Helped Me Survive Personal Crisis

Jessica Klander (Bassford Remele) always turned to work to cope with life's challenges. When that was no longer an option, she realized she had to make room for something else. 

*Warning: This piece contains mentions of miscarriage and may be triggering to some readers. Please proceed with caution if this topic is personal to you.


Paige Corin-1


For a long time, I managed to outwork any problem I faced. 

When my first few jobs after college didn’t suit me, I took a leap of faith and went to law school. When the mortgage crisis hit and job opportunities were scarce, I applied around until I got an offer at a fantastic firm. I was young and inexperienced. I knew I had to prove myself, so I often billed more hours than anyone else at the firm. 


After establishing myself in the firm, my husband and I decided to start our family.

When we found out I was pregnant, we were beyond excited. I could not wait to start this new chapter. I dreamed about the baby. We told our families. We started planning. Then, at our first ultrasound, I was told my baby didn’t have a heartbeat. 


We went back in 10 weeks. Still, no heartbeat. I had a “missed” miscarriage. It was an incredibly painful and traumatizing experience. Afterward, I poured myself into work. It was my escape from sadness.


After several months, I got pregnant again. Again, we told our families. Again, we started planning. Again, at our first ultrasound, we found out there was no heartbeat. 


This time is a blur of sadness in my memory.

I cried nonstop. I would dream about being pregnant or about my baby and wake up just for the nightmare and pain to start all over again. I kept thinking to myself: What is wrong with me? Why is my body betraying me? It was the first time I truly experienced trauma and loss of control. I spiraled. I could not get out of bed in the morning. I’d wake my husband up at all hours, sobbing. 


Hard work and grit were not going to solve this problem. I needed time.

After only two weeks, I went back to work. I threw myself into my job again, clinging to my old ways to get me through. But this time, it wouldn’t save me. One morning, I told my husband through tears that I could not take it any longer and I did not want to live anymore.  


He jumped into action. He called my primary doctor and they found a psychiatrist willing to see me on short notice. They diagnosed me with a major depressive episode and prescribed an antidepressant. I started therapy and took some more time off of work. 


My firm was 100% supportive. 

I shared what was going on and they told me to take the time I needed. The job would be there when I was ready. Slowly, I started to feel more like myself. When I was ready, I went back to work. I was not penalized in any way. I did not lose money. I was not taken off of the partnership track. No one treated me differently. I was given a break to work on myself without any strings attached. 


Shortly thereafter, I went back to the doctor and learned I had a unique anatomical condition that was likely causing my miscarriages. I had surgery and soon got pregnant again. 


Nine months later, I had my daughter, Rose.

It was the happiest day of my life. I took three months of paid leave and enjoyed every second of my time with her. 


A year and half later, I got pregnant again. At our 20-week appointment, the technician got very quiet. My baby’s ultrasound was abnormal. We were told that my baby was unusually small. The doctors were not sure why or what it meant. 


Virtually every week, we were told that my baby might not live or may have profound disabilities. It was a long, stressful, and anxiety-filled pregnancy. Again, my firm was entirely supportive. They put me on paid part-time leave. My family was not financially impacted, and I was not taken off of the partnership track. 


At 38 weeks, Nola defied every odd and came to us full term. She was on the small side but was immediately breathing on her own and doing well. After a short stay in the NICU, we brought her home. I took a three-month leave. That same year, I went up for partner (on time), and was voted in as a shareholder. 


Becoming a mom was a difficult road, but it has made me a better lawyer and a better person.

I am more confident, more empathetic, more balanced, more authentic, and generally more fulfilled as a person. I have learned to manage times of uncertainty and a lack of control. I have also learned what it means to be supported and loved by your family and community. I understand what it looks like when your employer truly values you as a person. 


Throughout this entire experience, my firm stood behind me. 

They did not penalize me or derail my trajectory. They supported me and lifted me up.  I know first-hand what it means to be given the opportunity to fall apart, to step away from your career, and then be welcomed back with open arms. I know what it feels like to be supported without penalty when life happens.


Because of this experience, I am a lifer at my firm. Even better, I will pay that support forward to others when life happens to them. I strongly believe that the wealth and worth of an organization can be only truly understood when “life happens.” If it rises to that occasion and truly values its people, those actions will pay themselves back in dividends. 



Hear stories like Jessica's live at Women in Consumer Finance 2024. This year, we'll be in Fort Worth, Texas from November 11 to 13. Get your ticket or sign up for updates.